01 September 2016

Seeing Dutch

They like to eat breakfast early!

That was one of the first things Alexis de Tocqueville noticed about Americans.  

In 1831, the 25-year-old lawyer came to this country with his fellow barrister, Gustave de Beaumont, to study prisons in the US.  They returned to their native France after a year and published their report, which seems to have been written mainly by de Beaumont.  

But the lasting legacy of their sojourn came in 1835, when de Tocqueville published Democracy In America.  In it, he offered what, to this day, are some of the most trenchant observations made by a foreigner looking at American society.   He expressed both admiration and criticism of the New World's ideals, customs, institutions (or, in some cases, relative lack thereof) and economy.  

What if he were alive today?  And what if he were a cyclist?  What would he think of the ways in which Americans ride--and of the environment for cycling?  

Those questions came to my mind when I came across this video in which a Dutchman offers his observations of cycling in the USA:


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  2. Sara--Thank you for the lead, and for stopping by!

  3. Interesting video! Many scenes from my home town including some shots along my old commuter route. Interesting take on cat 6 racing as well. i'll be watching it again for any familiar faces.
    i agree that cycling "infra" is sorely lacking, although i have noticed in Wisconsin more linked trail systems and practical bike routes being laid out. i disagree that a kerb-separated, two-way bike lane is a good way to go and Chicago's cyclists are still trying to get used the few "protected" lanes that exist there.
    Also pointed out was the American attitude towards bikes (kid's toys, sport, and recreation-only use.) This is very slowly changing. Sadly, i'm not as optimistic as the film's presenter about US cycling's future.

  4. Mike--I agree with you. Attitudes in this country may be changing, but it will take a long time for cycling to gain the level of respect it garners in Amsterdam. In part, it's because we don't yet have a couple of generations of people who are commuter and utility cyclists.